Andrew Charles Mynarski
Charles Andrew (Andy) Mynarski was born in Winnipeg on October 14, 1916, the son of recent Polish immigrants. In 1940 he joined the Royal Winnipeg Rifles that were a militia unit and served only a short time. In September 1941, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and was posted to No. 3 Manning Depot in Edmonton. After initiation, he went to No. 2 Wireless School in Calgary but had trouble with learning Morse Code. He was then posted to No. 3 Bomb and Gunnery School at MacDonald, Manitoba, graduating just before Christmas as an air-gunner earning his AG "Wing".
Andy was sent overseas in December of 1942. On June 12th 1944, he was assigned as a gunner aboard a Lancaster bomber in a raid on Cambrai, France. The aircraft was hit by an enemy fighter (a German Junkers 88) and the pilot was forced to order the plane abandoned after fire broke out.
Pilot Officer Mynarski prepared to parachute to safety with the other members of the crew when he realized that the tail gunner (Pat Brophy) was trapped in his position, and made his way through the fire in an attempt to free him. However, it was not possible for the tail gunner to be released from his position, and he told Mynarski to save his own life and bail out. As a final gesture, Mynarski turned and saluted his comrade before abandoning the plane. Unfortunately both Mynarski's clothes and parachute had been set on fire during his rescue attempt and he later died of his burns.
Ironically, the tailgunner miraculously survived the crash and was able to give testimony to Mynarski's heroism. Mynarski was later posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross and his heroism in sacrificing himself in a bid to save another became the stuff of legends in the RCAF.
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